Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parenting Lesson from The Biggest Loser

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I know The Biggest Loser has been very popular for a long, long time, but this is my first season every watching it. I know, I am slow. That's okay. Adding to my slowness, I am about a month behind in watching the show. I like to watch it when I am working out. Anyway, as I was watching this morning, I was completely struck by what an amazing parenting lesson I learned from the show. Hopefully I can summarize what happened succinctly and coherently. Oh, and if you are watching this and are behind like me, this is from February 22, so if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to know what happens, stop reading now.

First, some background information. The Biggest Loser is a show about people who exercise and eat right to lose weight. Each week, at least one person is voted off the show and goes home. The idea is to stay around as long as you can to A) Get the benefit of the trainers in your weight loss crusade and B) Win money at the end. But I think for most people, it is more about the weight than the money.

This particular week, someone was going to get voted off AND someone was automatically going to go home if they lost the lowest percentage of weight loss. So out of 16 (I think) people, whoever had the lowest percentage was going home. 

This season (and I think many seasons?) people came in teams with a loved one/friend. There are many parent/child dynamics here. There are five left at this point in the season.

The parents are very concerned about this "red line" and who will fall below it. None of the parents want their child to fall below the red line and be automatically sent home. They want their child to live a long, healthy life. Oh, I should add these children are all somewhere in their 20s. 

When it came time for the weigh-in, the first parent/child people are weighed. The son did well, the father didn't, but they had both tried to lose weight that week doing what they normally do.

Next comes Kaylee and Moses. The daughter lost 7 pounds, going from 187 to 180--which is a great percentage for one week at 3.74%. The father lost 11 pounds, from 333 down to 222, giving him 3.30% lost, which was also a great percentage for the week. This daughter is the smallest of all of the children left in the competition.

Then came the other parents. The first one, the daughter lost 2 pounds out of 258, giving her a percentages of .78%. The mother gained a pound. The second, the son lost 9 pounds (of over 415), giving him a percentage of 2.17% while the father gained 3 pounds. The final one, the daughter lost 4 pounds of a 208 for a percentage of 1.92% while the mother gained 8 pounds, taking her from 196 up to 204.

These parents who gained weight all did it intentionally. They all commented that they gained weight to make sure their child was not going to be the one who went home. They were protecting their children. The children were completely grateful and I teared up. That is what being a parent is all about! Self-sacrifice! Unconditional love!

Cut to the first father speaking to the camera alone (the one who lost 11 pounds). His name is Moses. I have always liked him, but this morning I realized how much wisdom he has. He commented that he understood why the parents had thrown the weigh-in and that he can respect it, but he wished they had approached this situation differently. 

He wondered what these children would learn from that experience. Did those children learn to tackle difficulty in life head on?

Do you know what he did with his daughter? He woke her up every morning that week at 5:45 (much to her dislike), took her to the gym, and got an extra workout in each day. They both worked really hard, and pulled amazing numbers because of it. Kaylee got the highest percentage of weight loss and Moses got second--out of all 16 people. Kaylee was at a point when she is expected to pull only a few pounds a week--and she lost pound wise more than most people in the room. 

So what did Kaylee learn over the other children?

I think all of the children in this situation felt a lot of love from their parents. But this daughter learned a valuable lesson about hard work--working to earn what you have. She learned to work for what she wants in life. She also commented that she learned to love herself. Moses said he watched her realize she is worth fighting for and that she started to view herself as the young lady he always knew she was.

I couldn't help but immediately think of all of the things I do as a parent that I hope are like Moses. My kids are young and the situations are small. How do I approach situations when they need my help? Do I save them so they can go on, or do I step beside them and work with them to get through it all? Am I willing to put in a lot of extra hard work to make sure my child learns life's lessons well, or am I going to take the easier road of "rescuing" the child.

I have read a lot of parenting books, like Love and Logic and books by Kevin Leman, that talk about letting your child feel the consequences of their actions. I believe in those sentiments and do my best to practice that myself.

I was so struck that I got caught up in the emotion of the moment and I am so glad Moses said what he did and that whoever is in charge of cutting the show included that comment. It is easy to think of simple things you can rescue your children from and vow to never do it, but life is rarely that simple and two dimensional. This was a great example of not saving your child while still saving your child--but doing it the hard way. 

Moses had confidence in Kaylee and it showed. He put a lot of effort and work into helping her be the best her she can be, and be the best her she can be as an individual with no need to be rescued. What a valuable lesson he taught her.


Linds said...

SUCH a good post Val!

Kelly Ford said...

This is one of our (mine and my husband's) favorite shows! And i am in COMPLETE agreement with Moses (and you). I truly hope to come along side my daughter and help her persevere through tough times. I was raised by my grandparents who were uber wise, mostly because they had made their mistakes with their own children. And honestly, i have benefited from seeing their mistakes... the biggest ones being that they rescued their kids from situations.
For me, however, they let me suffer all of my own consequences! I hated it growing up, but am eternally grateful for it now that I see how much more responsible and appreciative it has made me.
What a great show! Love this post!!!

Nikki said...

What a great concept!!! This is one principle that I take note of in every family dynamic I meet. I think this is a defining principle to successful parenting. This is what true love is.

Natalia Jean Sansosti said...

Beautiful illustration of these important parenting principles, and in a place you wouldn't expect to find it. Thanks for sharing!

Tracy said...

What a great post! I love that show, but hadn't reflected on that lesson, but you are 100% correct.

My dad always said that his job as a parent was to raise us kids so that we didn't need him. I take that one step further and my philosophy in raising my kids is to raise independent people that other people want to be around. That means that sometimes we have to do things that are a little harder, but have greater long term results...just like Moses and Kaylee.

snydsy33 said...

Great post! So glad to see that there is something worth watching on ?T.V.

kozzie said...

Ha! I am behind too and JUST watched this episode as well. I totally thought the same thing!! I felt bad that I was thinking, "oh these other parents are so great, making this big sacrifice" and then Moses came on and spoke and I thought, "man, that is what it is all about..... helping your kids along the way, by giving the confidence that they can do it on their own, not doing it for them!"

teamjbl said...

This is my first season watching The Biggest Loser, too and I'm also addicted! I LOVE how you summarized the episode and translated the lessons learned into applicable parenting for all of us. Thank you!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Linds!

Kelly, I love what you said about hating it growing up, but now being grateful. I think that is something we have to strive to remember as parents. Our kids won't kiss and thank us at the moment--they will often be upset at us. But long-term, they will love us for it.

Plowmanators said...

So true Nikki!

You are welcome Natalia!

So true Tracy!

Thanks snydsy33!

Plowmanators said...

So true Nikki!

You are welcome Natalia!

So true Tracy!

Thanks snydsy33!

Plowmanators said...

Kozzie, I am glad I didn't ruin it for you :) And I am glad you went through the same feelings I did about the whole thing :)

Plowmanators said...

Thank you teamjbl!

Jon McLaughlin said...

I completely agree! This is my first time watching an entire season and I find this show very motivating. My Mom and I had this VERY conversation after this episode and I think it also relates to your post on loving others ie. leading by example and growing WITH our children.

Aubrey Jane said...

P.S. That last comment was by Aubrey McLaughlin, I was accidently signed into my husband (Jon's) account.

Plowmanators said...

Aubrey, I have enjoyed it. It is motivating in many ways, including the importance of exercise on your psyche!


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